If you ask people who workout what they want most, but hate doing - abdominal exercises usually come fairly high up that list. With 9 out of 10 people using abdominal exercises to tone their tummy, there are potentially a lot of toned midrifts out there!
There's no getting around it - a trim flat stomach, with at least a hint of muscle rippling beneath the skin, is the epitome of fitness. If you want great abdominals, you have to know which ab exercises work.
The rectus abdominis, or abdominal muscle, originates at the sternum and ribcage and inserts onto your pubic bone. Its main function is flexion of the trunk, and rotation at the waist using the oblique muscles. Having strong abdominal muscles not only looks great, but is crucial for all-round body strength - any movement of either arms or legs uses the abdominal muscles.
There are a myriad of ab exercises to choose from, but all are not created equal - quite simply, some ab exercises work better than others. But you don't have to guess which are for studs and which are for duds - a recent study at the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University compared a variety of common abdominal workouts in order to figure out what really works. They compared 13 variations, ranging from the traditional crunch to those using at-home and gym equipment. And the winners were...
Bicycle manoeuvre - Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground and place your hands beside your head. Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. Breathe evenly throughout the movement.
Captain's chair - This is one of the few on the "most effective" list that actually involves gym equipment. Start with legs straight and slowly lift your knees toward your chest, then gently return them back to the starting position.
Crunch on an gym ball - Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. Let the ball roll back slowly and lie back until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Contract your abdominals and raise your upper body to no more than 45 degrees. To work the oblique (side) muscles, make your body less stable by moving your feet closer together.
That's it - the best of the best but if you are looking more exercises to challenge you, look no further than theFitMap.com. Make a list of what's on offer and get working on those abs!